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Soccer is one of the most popular sports in the world. Children in the US learn soccer at an early age: the US Youth Soccer Annual Registration of Players recorded 3,055,148 players for the 2014 season. However, with high participation rate comes high potential for injury. Among athletes ages 5 to 14, 22% of soccer players received an injury while playing the sport.1


Get Fit Tips from the NEBH Sports Performance Team

Soccer players should focus on high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts. Soccer games can last up to 90 minutes or more, so players should be able to sprint for 10 yards, rest for 10-20 seconds, and then sprint again.


For 10-15 minutes, focus on getting your heart rate up and the blood flowing in your body. Consider dynamic exercises like leg circles, high knees, soldier kicks, backwards shuffles, carioca, and lateral lunges or shuffles. These are all great warmup options that mimic the demands of your sport.


  • Position cones in a T-formation approximately five yards apart. Sprint the pattern starting at the bottom of the T. You will then sprint to the midpoint, the left point and then to the right, to mid and then back pedal back to start. Complete this at 90-100% of your maximum capacity for one minute. Rest and then repeat 3-4 more times.
  • Position cones in a square-formation approximately five yards apart. Starting at cone 1, sprint and tap cone 2. Side shuffle to the left to cone 3, back pedal around cone 3. Get to cone 4 and sprint back to cone 1. When you reach each cone, cut hard and transition to the movement. Time yourself and go as fast as possible. Rest and repeat 3-4 more times.
  • Juggling is the process of using the chest, thighs, and feet to keep the ball in the air. It is used to enhance ball-handling skills as well as mental skills such as focus, patience, and self-control.
    • Juggling is both a fun trick and a great coordination-boosting lower body exercise. Soccer players tend to incorporate at least 30 minutes of juggling into their daily workouts.


Building a strong core helps players to make quick sharp turns, and can help prevent common injuries in the leg muscles. Try planks to strengthen your core:

  • Lie on your stomach with your forearms on the floor and your elbows directly below your shoulders.
  • Push yourself up onto your elbows or with arms extended straight.
  • Tighten your abdominal and gluteal muscles, lifting your hips and knees off the floor.
  • Keep your body straight and hold for 30 seconds. If you cannot hold this position, bring your knees back to the floor and hold with just your hips lifted.
  • Slowly return to the start position and rest 30 seconds. Repeat.

Preventing Injuries

To help prevent injury, make sure you practice these general safety tips:

  • Have a physical examination at the start of the season to make sure you’re healthy to play.
  • Warm up and stretch before you play.
  • Ensure your equipment, such as your shoes and mouth guard, fits properly to help prevent sprains, strains, and knee injuries.
  • Participate in a conditioning course to strengthen your muscles, particularly ones statistically prone to injury.
  • Consult with your coach or athletic trainer about ways to prevent overuse injuries like stress fractures and tendonitis.
  • If you get injured, do not return to playing until a medical professional has cleared you.

Common Injuries


Hand & Wrist

  • Wrist sprain
  • Wrist fracture

Leg & Knee

Foot & Ankle

Injury Statistics

The most common injuries for soccer players were ligament sprains (33.9%) and fractures (30.3%).2

The most frequently injured body parts were the knee (38.9%), ankle (16.0%), and head/face (11.2%).2

Soccer activities that most regularly lead to severe injury are:2

Ball handling/dribbling (15.4%)

General play (15.0%)

Defending (13.6%)

Chasing a loose ball (12.6%)

Sports injury statistics differed by gender:

Female high school soccer players receive almost 40% more concussions than male players (29,000 annually).3

Boys suffered from a higher number of fractures (42.0%) than girls (22.1%).2

Girls had a greater proportion of sprained ligaments (31.4%) than boys (10.9%).2


Remember to always check with your doctor before beginning an exercise program. If you have any type of persistent pain, be sure to see a doctor.


1 “Youth Sports Injuries Statistics,” STOP Sports Injuries.
2 “High School Soccer Severe Injury Rates,” Lindsey Barton Straus, JD.
3 “Statistics on Youth Sport Safety,” Southwest Athletic Trainers’ Association.
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